Going back in time with my mum

This past weekend would have been my grandmother’s 100th birthday as well as my mum and dad’s 40th wedding anniversary. It felt like the perfect weekend to go back in time.

My mum was born in London and brought up in NW3 and NW6. When my brothers moved to London they chose West Hampstead and Kilburn and so that’s where I moved too for the first year I was here, though I’m now much more at home in east London. We didn’t realise at the time how many connections we had to the places we were living. My brother John moved just round the corner from where my mum had lived as a child on West End Lane, not far from the bookshop our grandmother had run.

We realised how many more connections we had when, a few years ago, my mum and I started work on her family tree and traced her parents’ lines back a few generations. We recently delved a bit further and found the actual addresses they were living at, through the census and through the birth certificates of their siblings. There was a lot of moving around but on the whole my mum’s father’s line lived very centrally – in Soho and Clerkenwell – and her mother’s side lived in east London – in Bow, around Stratford.

Through Ancestry.com we’ve found a few intrigues and illegitimate children along the way but it was fascinating in itself for me to see where they were living and find out a bit about the social context.

This weekend we tracked down some of the addresses that my great grandparents lived at. Most have gone, probably through slum clearance or after bomb damage but some of the homes are still standing.


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